Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sector V, Calcutta

By: Pritam Bhattacharya

I had been in a meeting in Sector V, recently. I could see bustle of activities and plenty of men in their late twenties and mid thirties breezily discussing the stress they are in and the hard challenges of professional life. They are truthful and telling the truth. Their life is really stressful and and except for something like ppm (parts per million), none of this class would leave anything substantial in their professional work that would outlive the next quarter, or next profit margin or the next project.

The reason is simple : In a deadline driven world where the office (and its roll) is some blip for someone thousands of miles away and few having an urge to refuse to live an Un-examined Life, the work itself is a Skinnerian Rat-Experiment. I heard somewhere that Nietzsche said that in certain special situation, the Urge to Work is a form of sickness. I am sure that many of these young men feel like being ‘sick’ while they pull themselves up for work in the morning. Add to this the daily commute in Calcutta – a brew of Middle Age Europe, Brownian Motion, Stoic Philosophy, Marxian motion of proletariat and extermination of traffic order, Neuro-Ambulatory advantage of honking, Traffic Policing in Post Modern Marxism.

I grew up in a quiant town in North East India but subscribed to many periodicals of Calcutta (late seveties) and read many translations of classics in Bengali. Most of the translations were excellent. Later I came to know that the translators were doing this as a hobby and not with the slightest aspiration of buying a posh flat in Calcutta’s gated communities. They did this because they loved it. They introduced me to Captain Nemo, Sherlock Holmes, Edmond Dantes, David Copperfield, Professor Moriarty, James Jeans, Neville Cardass and many others.

Without these Bengali translators of Calcutta, my Life would have been of such abject poverty that I would have remained as poor as a typical Cadre of Contemporary Calcutta even though the whole city would have been owned by me or my co-gangs in various forms.

What did these Bengalis get for their work ? A pittance as far as book sales are concerned because the typical Bengali publisher generally denies the author his/her due.

But they have the ever lasting gratitude of men and women of our generation. I more I grow my gratitude seems to increase for these people who made me unthinkably rich. Rich beyond any bania driven culture’s estimation of riches.

I thought of asking these busy, well-paid, well-dressed and apparently doing well gentlemen of Bengali origin : After thirty years, how many people are going to be in everlasting thankfulness to you for gifts you have given them ?

The answer, my friend is blowing in the Wind.

This blog has been contributed by Priram Bhattacharya. He runs his translation and communications company Wordsmith Communication and is a regular blogger anfd writes on his blog Wordsmith of Bengal.


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